Kindness, sleep and magic


This week’s missive is being penned on the road, as I head back from the office to meet the big ones from school/ supply snacks / get them to Kung Fu, then head to get little one, then go to pick up trousers that gave been shortened, and mince meat that forms part of this week’s meal plans, then head back to school to collect big ones from Kung Fu, then head home to get (healthy) dinner, before heading out on the (unhealthy) Trick or Treat rounds… Before trying to coax sugared children to bed…

And in amongst the chaos that many days like this end up turning into, I sometimes wonder what has happened to my Grand Plan of setting up my own coaching business… Of being able to create exactly what I dream off, what I am retraining to do, and what I believe so passionately in.

Because, I mean, I’m not working full time anymore, far from it… I’m blessed with ‘working’ for a mere 12hrs a week, and even then I am lucky enough to be doing something I really want. So, really, why can’t I just pull my finger out and get on with it… It’s not like I don’t know what needs to be done. I’ve got more lists than you could think of, and the one thing I KNOW I can do is manage a project.

And then sometimes, if it’s a good day, I remember to just cut myself a little slack and offer up some kindness to myself.

It’s only been three months since we left the UK, and in that time I’ve moved continents, settled the 3 kids into new school/nursery, set up the associated daily routines including all sorts of after school fun, started a new job, in a new office, with a (mostly) new team of people, moved house, mostly unpacked, worked out how to (mostly) eat, drink and survive in a city where the language barrier is challenging to say the least, and enjoyed weekly 0230am conference calls for a project that is v closely linked to what I do want to be doing with my life.

And so right now, I’m just plain old tired! There are still more boxes to be unpacked, more things to be sorting and planning for – UN Day costumes, Christmas cards to post (no idea how long they might take to arrive – so sorry in advance for their lateness!), Christmas and birthday presents to decide on, order and work out where the hell to get them shipped to – but right now, what I need, to make sense of all of this is just some more sleep. And the understanding that it really is just kindness to grant myself that sleep.

So tonight, forget the to do lists and my Grand Plan. I’m going to bed.


And the magic? Well, that came from Disneytown! Our initial toe-dip into Shanghai Disney.

Who can fail to fall in love with the magic of the sight of the Disney castle? Not me! Nor the kids. Huge smiles all round.

So, kindness, sleep and magic. Not much to ask for hey?


Sometimes, in the words of the good old Rolling Stones, you don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get just what you need – and that’s what happened to me, last night.

I wanted sleep, I really did. And so I was tempted to miss my random o’clock catch up call. But, ever the ‘obliger’, I dutifully got up and dialled in at 0330, and from this amazing, global bunch of incredible, electric women, I got a heavy helping of kindness, a healthy dose of magic and more inspiration on my grand plan and the way forward for me than I ever could have mustered on my own. 

I have learnt and grown so much, by sharing my here and now with this tribe – a real case of the power of connection – so whilst I might still be (very) tired, there is a spring in my step today, that has translated into a great morning in the office, and a clear plan to go home and sleep tonight! 

There is a plan being hatched! 


Good things come to those who wait…


Well, they say good things come to those who wait… And, well, good things have come…

After 10 weeks in our much more than just functional, if a little small, serviced apartment, we have moved into our new house – and the wait was worth it!

It’s taken 10 days to clear most of the boxes.  IKEA has been visited again, and we already have the list going for the next trip, but… we are nicely set up, we can eat, we can sleep, we can (finally) listen to music around the place (however we have currently lost our connection to Absolute Radio, which is, I must say, a bit of a blow…how on earth can I keep up with the current trends in 80’s & 90’s bad indie rock?) and we’re getting to know the neighbours.

In those 10 weeks, where we existed from what we had carried out in suitcases, we did just fine. But we were waiting… And then all our stuff arrived and the odd thing is – very little of what we shipped over is actually ‘needed’.  Nice to have maybe, but… So our task now is to take all those things that we were so actively waiting for, and use them to turn this place from a house into our home (as I’m really not moving again, seriously. Well, not for a while…) And it’s turning out to be a lot of the small things that really matter.  A favourite mug for a cup of tea.  Our photos.  Wellies… for that rain…

Because, dear lord, does it rain! Bless the kids for being excited about being able to cycle to school… And great that ‘a little bit of rain never hurt anyone‘ is something they have taken to heart… But as the woman who then has to head on to Nursery with little one (singing along quite happily on the back of the bike), and then head back again, well… I was damp. Dripping in fact. And it just didn’t stop. Friday – rain.  So we waited… Friday night – rain. Saturday – rain. Need to go out? Wait! Oh no, no point waiting – just more rain.

So much rain, that it was actually raining through one of our external doors. Hubby found fungus growing at the bottom of the door frame – on the inside. It was dripping through the middle of the door. And the top. And it was seeping through the bottom.

And then in the middle of the night, our very loud, insistent – and entirely controlled from a Chinese touchscreen – doorbell started ringing.  And we did wait for it to stop. But it didn’t stop. It just rang. And the only thing making it ring?  Rain.  It took a while, but Hubby in the end just disconnected it from all visible cables.

And now? Now I wait. For someone to come and look at my very damp, and not quite weather proof door. And then I wait some more for someone else to come and look at my nonfunctioning doorbell.

So, my thinking is that good things must definitely be coming my way in heaps.

Keeping count

So, when the rain finally did stop (which it did on Sunday morning – and it was just so fresh and lovely and almost as if it had never happened) we ventured out to the wonderful Shanghai Natural History Museum – and in amongst the antlers


and dinosaur bones


and this little chap…


I came across this…


and my only thought was that I was glad that someone was counting…

Fancy a good question or two?

To get your pondering for the week ahead…Head here

Twenty Five Things: this is who I am now

Twenty Five Things

Twenty Five Things, by all accounts was a craze that went round Facebook a few years ago.

Well, for anyone who knows me well, it will be no surprise that I’ve only stumbled across this now. On the popular culture front, I am never quite on the same page as anyone else at the same time.  I stumbled across The West Wing years after it had finished, and I’ve never caught up. Anywhere. On any continent. In any time zone.

I am behind the times wherever I happen to be living, and I’m used to it. It is now one of my defining characteristics. And one of the best things is, that with my goldfish-like memory, I never remember the spoilers that people have discussed with me.

But anyway… I came across this Twenty Five Things thing a couple of weeks ago while reading the awesome, if somewhat uncomfortable and painful, but equally enlightening and inspiring Love Warrior (ok, bad book title, I know… but hang in there – it ends up making sense…)

And I thought I’d quite like to try and write my own Twenty Five Things – of things that I am, things that I believe and things that I’ve come to realise since arriving in Shanghai. So here goes…

Twenty Five Things…

  1. I always suspected it, but it has become very clear that I truly am an introvert. And I am ok with that. But if I don’t have some daily, quiet time to myself, I start to go crazy, I feel like an exhibit in a zoo, being poked and prodded… It can get nasty (sorry all… but 10mins by myself somewhere quiet can usually restore the working balance)
  2. Headspace gives me just the perfect answer to this. I love my 10minutes a day with Andy, and always feel just a little bit sad when I haven’t managed to find the time in my day… I mean, really – 10 minutes? It’s not so much to find, is it? (Hmmm… well, I’m trying)
  3. Conversely – new adventures are more fun when undertaken with other people. Travelling and setting up life on the other side of the world on my own was fun, but could be lonely.  Relocating life with 3 small kids in tow, well, it just gives an entirely new perspective on what’s really important (fish fingers and a big enough space to let off steam – both them and us). Plus, having the opportunity to walk into a fully formed, friendly, supportive ex-pat community – it’s allowed & encouraged me to be more social than ever before.  There is space in my world for my own quiet time (to reflect, to digest) and also for a growing tribe, community and network – after all, it’s people who make this world an amazingly interesting place.
  4. Freedom is a bicycle with a basket up front.  I can get myself wherever I might need to be, getting exercise as I go, and some fresh air – and hey, I can collect stuff along the way! Plus I can talk or sing to myself – which adds to the happiness quotient…
  5. I am a feminist – and I need to start being a little clearer in saying that out loud – both in my words and deeds. It doesn’t need a justification. I believe that everyone, whatever gender, whatever race, whatever sexual orientation, whatever whatever, should be afforded equal rights. I am better than no-one else, and no-one else is better than me. (And comments & behaviour like this are unacceptable. Any and every time.)
  6. Linked to this is a complete love of the United States Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  I want a poster, with the words beautifully laid out, printed large and framed for my home. If my eldest can take nothing else from her American birthplace, then I hope she takes this – and takes it fully to heart: the pursuit of happiness is a right.
  7. The M&S Food Hall in Shanghai is a lovely little place to wander aimlessly around – peaceful, calm, and full of English suburban food porn…
  8. I thought I was too young to put my slippers on back home… but you know what? The tiled floors here are just really chilly. So I’ve got me some slippers.  Mahabis in fact. And they’re cool. mahabi
  9. If a yoga class doesn’t almost bring me to tears, it’s only a ‘so-so’ class.  I’m crap at yoga. After years of doing it all over the world, I’ve come to accept I’ll never be any good at yoga at all. But I love it. I swear I come out of the classes taller and stronger.  These feelings are multiplied immeasurably if I’ve been almost brought to tears. It’s a learning, stretching and striving thing.
  10. I knew that I’d never miss the unpredictability and stress of the daily commute – but…I was listening to one of my ‘commuting’ playlists at the weekend, and it made me smile, rather unexpectedly.  I’ve come to realise that the walk to the station on a bright morning, those 25minutes each way on the train, when I had a seat, with some headphones, a great playlist and a great book – it wasn’t too shabby, really…
  11. So now, my (3 days a week) commute is enjoyed in the bubble of a bad soccer-mom style people carrier – but it seems rude to put on headphones and disappear into a playlist, even though it’s not like the driver and I can have many stimulating conversations! But I get to view and experience lots of ‘interesting’ Shanghai style driving, and wonder at the sheer number of residential buildings  – who lives in each place, and what do they do in this sprawling city? And why the blue roofs? And the red? shanghairoofs
  12. It’s also become clear very quickly, that most road traffic rules out here appear to exist ‘for guidance only’ – pedestrians beware.
  13. Cooking and photography – the proper, thought about versions of both – are things that I aspire to being good at when I’m a ‘grown-up’ (with clear hero’s in both fields that I have been inspired by, and very much look up to – you know who you are!) – but for now, I’ve accepted that I have neither the time nor the (head)space to devote to these pursuits – so thank you iPhone and Sherpa’s for saving me, and my family, on a regular basis…
  14. Don’t forget to breathe.  An odd comment maybe… but… There is a section in Love Warrior that talks about the guidance by many to  ‘just breathe’ – and do you know what? I’ve found the need for a reminder to be true. I hold my breath so often. When I’m anxious. When I’m stuck. When I’m trying to think. And it never helps. So now, I try and notice it more. And then… I try to remember to breathe. (And it reminds me of something my mum always used to say before I headed out for the day, or went travelling – her last words to me were often ‘Don’t forget to eat’… I never used to understand that at all… but now, with life and 3 kids and all the rest of it – good advice. That’s what it is.)
  15. And know that out here, the air that you breathe has a daily quality rating – which provides as much general daily conversation opportunities as the weather in general does back in the UK.
  16. Music makes everything feel a little bit better.  Yes, there is a good place and time for quiet, but sometimes… sometimes your life just deserves a good soundtrack.
  17. And sometimes you just need to dance to it… (probably in the privacy of your own home, but… dance, nonetheless)
  18. I could not survive without books to read, and pen & paper to write. I lost myself in books from a very early age and still do. Give me a sunlounger in the shade and a good book, and I’m as happy as can be.  If I can have pen and paper to make notes as I go along – well, you may well lose me for the rest of the day.
  19. I will write a book before I die.  It may not (almost definitely won’t) get published, it may quite possibly never be seen by  anyone other than me, but I will write one.
  20. I love a good motivational quote – guess it’s back to that love of words

    Twenty Five Things
    Damned right, GAP
  21. Ditto Typography. One of my favourite places on my travels was the Wellington Writers Walk – words, on display, in concrete – just a perfect accompaniment to a good waterside stroll. wellingtonwords
  22. My family, and my desire to be a good parent, drives a lot, if not most of my thinking these days.  I’ve begun to understand that it’s not whether I follow ‘this’ parenting style or ‘that’ parenting manual, but more about how I can answer this question: Am I the sort of adult that I would want my children to grow up to be? (The answer is a minute by minute moving feast…)
  23. When embracing China and shopping on Taobao, even when using the English Version for eejits  – start small… Mistakes are less costly when they are based on trying to buy a pack of swim diapers, rather than a television…
  24. When you move in somewhere, change your wifi password from the generic. It’s amazing how many people don’t… Just saying…
  25. When everything feels too much – just remember your friends. 20 years ago, I met the basis of my (small but perfectly formed) gang – with a couple of amazing additions along the way – and for whatever amazing reason, they’ve all stood by me through everything, even all this mid-life crisis, coaching, touchy-feely-talky-honesty stuff that I seem to be suffering from right now. I may be in Shanghai, but I know they’ve got my back. And for that, I am eternally grateful.  And as of Friday, we’ve got a hell of a spare room wasting away…so come on over, we’ve even got our own lift!


Permission Slip

This week, I’ve given myself a Permission Slip – to not blog properly. I’m too tired. The exhaustion of everything is being given into – and I’m going to write our list for the week: of what needs to get done, of what would be good to get done, and no doubt of stuff that will end up not getting done. But then that’s it. I’m going to call it quits on the week and go to bed. It’s half term for me too I’ve decided.  And it starts… now.

With love from a far too hot to be October, Golden Week Shanghai.

(As for Q&A, well, it would be rude not too…)